Should links use the words ‘Click here’?

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Back in the early Web days, the use of “click here” was defended on the grounds that users wouldn’t otherwise know what to do. Authors thought that users needed hints on the basic use of their browsers. So why do people still use this language when web browsing is as commonplace for people as brushing their teeth?  Doesn’t everyone know by now that a highlighted or underlined word links to something regarding that topic?
One camp argues that ‘Click here’ has been proven to provide a higher click through ratio than descriptive anchor text. ‘Click here’ is a call to action people associate with the web, so it should be used on links to achieve the highest click through results. While some continue to defend these old ways the opposition to the term seems stronger…
When you print out a page that has the phrase “click here” it takes the link out of context. Instead of being able to see where the link goes and what it does, the user has to read the surrounding text to gain an idea of what’s going to happen. Quality guidelines suggest that anchor text should explain what a link offers.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Quality Control for webmasters suggests not using “click here” to suggest a link:
What a link means
When calling the user to action, use brief but meaningful link text that:

  • provides some information when read out of context
  • explains what the link offers
  • doesn’t talk about mechanics
  • is not a verb phrase

For instance, avoid the following sentence on your page:
To download W3C’s editor/browser Amaya, click here.
or:
To download Amaya, go to the Amaya Website and get the necessary software.
Both of these sentences divulge too much of the mechanics of getting the Amaya software. If you want to call your reader to action, use something like:
Get Amaya!
Note that “get” is left out of the hypertext; we do not recommend putting verb phrases in link text. Thus, rather than:
Tell me more about Amaya.
You should write:
Tell me more about Amaya: W3C’s free editor/browser that lets you create HTML, SVG, and MathML documents.
A descriptive link should always be used to help increase your site’s usability, accessibility and optimization for search engines. It does make sense that highlighting keywords rather than “click here” would be more effective for SEO. What does “click here” have to do with your topic? Well, nothing. It is be interesting to look at banner ads and notice there call to action usually has something other than ‘Click here,’ i.e. ‘learn more’ or ‘get it now.’

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If there’s anyone who can honestly say, “Been there, done that,” it’s Rob. After traveling the world for seven years in his 20’s, Rob went to LA and started working in film production. Then it was off to New York, where he learned how to program, which eventually brought him back home to Louisville to build websites. At Current360, Rob heads up our in-house production studio, creating all things digital for our clients — videos, commercials, radio spots, and a lot more. 

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